Drugs probe not linked to signing delays: Noyce

Cronulla officials insist the future of seven unsigned players called for interviews with Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigators will be determined for football reasons alone.
Nanjing Night Net

While hooker John Morris is in talks about a new deal with the club, the Sharks are yet to decide whether Ben Pomeroy, Nathan Gardner, Nathan Stapleton, Ben Ross, Matthew Wright and Stewart Mills are part of their plans beyond this season.

However, Cronulla chief executive Steve Noyce said the delay in finalising the club’s new roster had nothing to do with the ongoing ASADA investigation.

”While there is a group of players involved in the ASADA stuff, their contractual situations are all different,” Noyce said. ”Nathan Gardner, for example, has only played four or five games [because of injury] and his focus has just been getting on the football field.

”I think in the end your reason for wanting to re-sign players is about footy stuff and if he comes back on the field and plays good footy he gives himself a real opportunity to continue his partnership with the club.”

With the exception of Ross, the off-contract players are among 11 survivors of Cronulla’s 2011 squad summonsed for ASADA interviews that began on August 1. Of the others, Jason Bukuya is leaving for the Warriors and Anthony Tupou has taken up an option for another season. Wade Graham is off contract at the end of next season and captain Paul Gallen is signed until 2015.

Noyce said Morris wanted to continue playing for the Sharks and the club was also in discussions with the 30-year-old utility about a future coaching career. ”He is doing a masters in elite sports coaching at Sydney University and we are talking with him about putting that into practice with some of our academy teams,” Noyce said. ”There were a number of players who were a priority for us and we are working through the rest.

”A couple of the other guys know we are talking to them and it is up to them to get out on the field and play some good footy, but obviously we are always looking to see what new blood we can attract to the club.”

After a week’s break from the interviews with ASADA, Cronulla players will again be quizzed over the allegations of doping at the club next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Fairfax Media has been told that investigators have been happy with the level of co-operation provided by the players after Graham was the only player interviewed before ASADA abandoned the process in April.

Despite not initially having been on a list of 30 NRL players required for interviews this month, Graham was quizzed for a second time last Friday and Fairfax understand that it was at his request.

A further four members of the Sharks 2011 squad now at other clubs – Newcastle pair Jeremy Smith and Kade Snowden and Gold Coast’s Albert Kelly and Luke Douglas – are also due to be interviewed soon.

The other club in the spotlight is Manly, with six players – Anthony Watmough, Brett Stewart, Steve Matai, George Rose, Ben Farrar and Richie Fa’aoso – asked for interviews, along with former Sea Eagles Glenn Hall, Dean Whare and Darcy Lussick.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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